Fancy yourself a Nintendo fanatic? Think you know everything about every game they’ve ever published? Well, I wager even your knowledge might get a little fuzzy once you tackle Nintendo’s Game Boy catalogue.
The Game Boy certainly had its mega hits like Super Mario Land, Tetris and Pokemon, but Nintendo also published a lot of under-the-radar games for the system. Games that are only faintly remembered today. Well, today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the original brick-sized Game Boy, so let’s unearth of few of Nintendo’s forgotten small-screen classics…
Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
Kid Icarus has always been the red-headed stepchild of Nintendo franchises, and for good reason — the original NES Kid Icarus just wasn’t very good. It was clunky, confusing and more frustrating than fun.
Well, did you know Nintendo gave Kid Icarus another try on the Game Boy? Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters is a successful shot at redemption — the controls are tighter, the levels are more open and better structured and the insane backwards difficulty curve of the original game has been fixed. That said, despite all the changes the game still has that unique Kid Icarus feel. If you’ve ever been curious about the Kid Icarus franchise I would recommend skipping the original and going straight for the Game Boy sequel.
Believe it or not, the Wave Race series did not get its start on the N64. The original Game Boy version of Wave Race obviously doesn’t have the cutting-edge 3D waves of the N64 and Gamecube versions, but it’s still a fun little handheld racer with some unique mechanics that’s worth a play.
Mario, Donkey Kong, Link and…Muddy Mole? Mole Mania, created and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto himself, is easily the master designer’s most obscure title. Released late in the Game Boy’s lifespan (before Pokemon gave the system its final wind) this title about a mole with a unibrow went totally unnoticed and unloved in its time.
That’s a shame, because the game definitely has that Miyamoto magic. The game is made up of a series of puzzle-filled mazes, which you navigate by burrowing underground. The game can be tough at times, but at its best it takes you to that Zelda-esque puzzle solving happy place.
Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman!
This one is worth playing for novelty alone. A Wario/Bomberman crossover? Who decided that was a thing that needed to happen? But Wario Blast isn’t just an oddity — it’s a solid take on the always-reliable Bomberman formula. You know, just with Wario (for some reason).
Released around the same time as the groundbreaking Donkey Kong Country, this more classic take on the big ape was completely overlooked, which is too bad, because it’s kind of brilliant.
At first glance, it’s just a Game Boy port of the original Donkey Kong — the first four stages in the game are the four stages from the original arcade game. Ah, but once you complete those stages another set of completely new stages unlock. And then another set. And another set. All in all, the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong contains a whopping 101 stages, leading up to a battle with a giant mutant Donkey Kong. If you’ve ever enjoyed classic-style Donkey Kong, you owe it to yourself to play this game.
So, those are my picks. If you’re not feeling like digging out the old Game Boy, but still want a legal way to play these games, most of them are available for download on the 3DS virtual console for only 2 or 3 bucks.
What are some of your favorite obscure Game Boy games? You don’t need to stick to just Nintendo stuff — include third party stuff too if you want.